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Biden visits American cemetery in France that Trump skipped

Biden visits American cemetery in France that Trump skipped

BELLEAU, France — US President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, stopped at an American cemetery in France on Sunday that former president Donald Trump declined to visit in 2018, drawing widespread criticism at the time.

As they conclude their trip to France, the Bidens visited Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 kilometers (50 miles) east of Paris, to pay respects to US soldiers and marines killed during World War One.

"The idea that we're able to avoid being engaged in major battles in Europe is just not realistic," Biden told reporters. "That is why it's so important, the alliances that we have."

Biden, a Democrat, is running against Trump, a Republican, for reelection in November.

Trump's White House said in 2018 that the then-president, who was also on a trip to France, could not visit the cemetery because of bad weather. His chief of staff at the time, John Kelly, a retired general, attended instead, in light rain.

Without mentioning Trump by name, Biden said he would not have come to Normandy without also visiting Aisne-Marne.

"America showed up. America showed up to stop the Germans, America showed up to make sure that they did not prevail, and America shows up when we're needed," Biden said.

He also said he had reached an agreement with French President Emmanuel Macron on the use of profits from frozen Russian assets to help Ukraine.

Biden is finishing a five-day trip that included a commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day with World War Two veterans in Normandy and a state visit in Paris.

He has made subtle references to Trump without naming him throughout the trip, including in a speech at the Normandy coast site where US Army Rangers scaled a 100-foot (30.5-meter) cliff during the D-Day landings. Biden has pushed to uphold strong US alliances while Trump has been critical of NATO and threatened not to defend its members if they don't pay more for their defense. — Reuters